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By Dr C. Sharath Babu
Prosthodontist and Implantologist
Published on 17/09/2022

Digital dentistry involves using dental technologies or devices rather than mechanical or electrical tools to perform dental procedures. Digital dentistry can perform dental functions more efficiently than automated tools, both restorative and diagnostic.

What is Digital dentistry?

Digital dentistry contains any digital or computer-based technology the dental doctor may utilize to investigate, diagnose, and treat your teeth and mouth.

Digital radiography, electronic prescriptions, CAD/CAM restorations, digital-based surgical guides, imaging for implant placement, and digital impressions are among the digital technologies available for dentistry. Dentists integrate proven digital technologies into their practice to provide cutting-edge dental treatment that is more efficient, effective, and comfortable.

Digital dental technologies enable faster, more detailed consultations with patients and collaborations with other dental specialists than in the past. What is more required when enhanced diagnosis and precision restorations improve the quality of dental care?

What are the advantages of digital dentistry?

Faster diagnosis:

Dentists can examine teeth and gums with digital X-rays. These X-rays produce images within seconds and help in accurate diagnosis.

Better patient experience:

The 3D scanners used in dentistry can provide a complete image of the patient’s tooth without biting into any molding plaster. Fear of dental pain is a leading cause of missed dental appointments, and digital dentistry has an answer in the form of laser dentistry. The computer-guided dental laser can be used on soft or hard tissues during this procedure. As a result, the procedure is needle-free, anesthesia-free, noise-free, and blood-free, thus removing dental fear and anxiety among the patients.

Shorter time and low cost:

Waiting days or weeks for the dental lab to complete restoration is no longer necessary. Thanks to digital technology, you can now have a veneer, dental crown, or dentures in just a day or two. This reduces the number of appointments, saving the patient and the dentist time. Fewer appointments mean lower transportation and service fees per visit.

The digital technology used in dentistry includes the following:

CAD (Computer-assisted design) / CAM (Computer-aided manufacturing) technology: CAD/CAM technology allows computerized milling technology to fabricate dental prostheses such as crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays. Your dentist may use in-office CAD/CAM to complete same-day tooth restorations that generally require two or more visits. In case of complexity, your dentist may collaborate with a dental laboratory that uses CAD/CAM technology to create your restorations.

Cone Beam CT:

This type of computerized tomography generates a quick 3-D image of a patient's oral or maxillofacial anatomy for dentists to decide a treatment plan. It serves as the foundation for surgical implant guides, which dentists use when implanting dental implants. Pre-surgical imaging techniques like this have made implant placement more effortless and predictable, resulting in greater treatment success.

Diagnodent:

Diagnodent is a tool for early cavity detection. The advanced technology uses sound pulse and laser to detect dental caries earlier than traditional methods, allowing the treatment to begin immediately and limiting the amount of dental decay. This helps to protect healthy tooth structure as much as possible.

Digital X-rays:

Digital radiographs capture dental images with a sensor and display them on a computer screen. Digital X-rays are more comfortable and reduce radiation exposure than traditional X-rays. Furthermore, digital radiographs enable dentists to magnify images for improved diagnostic accuracy, resulting in more timely and appropriate treatment.

OPG(Orthopantomogram):

An OPG is an X-ray that shows a panoramic view of the mouth, giving detailed information about the teeth and the bones of the upper and lower jaw.

Intra-Oral Camera:

Intra-oral cameras can capture detailed images of your teeth and surrounding structures. This allows you, your dentist, and any dental technician involved in your treatment to see tooth defects. It also helps you understand why the recommended treatment is necessary. Intra-oral cameras can also teach more about dental hygiene practices, such as where to brush your teeth.

Dental Lasers:

Dental lasers simplify dental procedures that were once complex and required patients to go through painful healing periods for hard tooth structure, soft gum tissue, or both. Soft tissue lasers, which cause less bleeding and trauma to surrounding areas, are a precision tool for many gingival procedures such as recontouring and periodontal therapy that can be completed in a single office visit by a dentist.

Optical Scanners:

In dentistry, optical scanners are used to create a digital map of the teeth and a digital impression of the tooth's anatomy. Digital color maps aid in determining the shade and custom characterizations of cosmetic restorations. Patients can avoid traditional impressions that involve unpleasant tasting materials, bulky and cumbersome trays, and possible gagging.

TekScan (T-Scan):

A computer that digitally evaluates a patient's bite relationships using an ultra-thin electronic sensor.

JVA(Joint Vibration Analysis):

JVA is a test that detects vibrations in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is the left and right jaw joint that allows you to open and close your mouth.

The Wand:

The Wand is a computerized tool that can administer anesthesia slowly and methodically. The pain often associated with injections is caused by the pressure of the liquid injected rather than the needle itself. Injections are often painless due to The Wand's slow and gentle delivery. The delivery holder is small and simple to use for the dentist.

Digital smile design:

It empowers you to understand the treatment outcome and helps you visualize it beforehand by creating a 3D simulation and by presenting a digital mockup of your new smile design before the treatment (clinically) starts.

Invisalign braces:

Invisalign clear aligners are an orthodontic treatment that uses a computer-generated mold to realign or correct teeth that are growing or are positioned incorrectly in the mouth.

Digital technology continues to assist dentists in providing the best possible dental care.

Discuss with your dentist the dental digital technologies they use to learn how they may affect oral health treatments.

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